TEXAS, 1984

by Martin Cockroft

Heat never leaves.
It shuts itself in a room upstairs
and refuses to open a window.

Outside, the oak backs away from life.
A child pulls at his jersey.
Across the county, tires fuss

at gravel. There’s no rain there either.
The sky knots every afternoon
and yesterday or this weekend

thunder empties a neighborhood pool,
jostles drying dishes. Lamps
blink twice, clock-radios zero,

but it won’t rain. Come dark
stars wring light from field dust.
No one resents it: stars don’t make weather.

Every night you have to trick the dog
out from under the porch. He comes through
a hole in the lattice, stiff and slow.

He’s a deaf old son-of-a-bitch, but he’s here,
under a moon dragged by the dead
limb of a pecan. At the VFW

they’ve got a brush pile big as a house
they won’t burn. It is a house,
godless, condemned, about to go.